MARY BETH BARKER
CAPE Town has been deemed one of the world’s 15 most bike-friendly cities, in a blog that includes major bicycle capitals such as Amsterdam and San Francisco.
But although city officials are pleased, they acknowledge it will be some time before Cape Town is ready to rank itself among the best in the world.
The list, featured in a blog by independent travel media company Matador Trips, applauded the city’s recent efforts to encourage cyclists and foster a safe urban biking environment.
“The South African hub is committed to creating cycling lanes, dedicated bike parking and public commuter showers,” it said.
Cape Town was the only city on the continent to be included
Theuns Kok, a senior official with the City of Cape Town’s transport, roads and major projects department, said there was still some work to do, “but with the resources available, we are doing our best”.
“We are getting there,” he said.
“We have made a lot of improvements.”
These, he said, include programmes to make cyclists more visible and equipping buses with bike racks.
There is also a new 16km cycle path from Table View to the city centre.
It runs along the Integrated Rapid Transport bus route, and is the longest dedicated bike lane in South Africa.
There are now almost 300km of cycle paths in Cape Town.
Gail Jennings, the owner and editor of Mobility magazine, said while Cape Town got “huge points” for trying to change, “I wouldn’t rate it as being a bicycle-friendly city yet”.
She said the infrastructure for cyclists in Cape Town was good, but not yet up to top cycle city status.
“If infrastructure is to encourage more cyclists and lead to increased mode share, it needs to be of high quality, network-focused, and integrated with other modes, rather than a few ‘legacy’ projects,” Jennings emphasised.
The projects were important, but it was also about attitude.
The friendlier the attitude, the better the area for those on two wheels, she explained.
With its transport department working on new driver awareness programmes, the City of Cape Town has high hopes of an improvement in attitudes to alternative modes of transport.
An interest in the economic and environmental aspects of bicycles has also become more important in recent years, but the popularity of cycling is nothing new for the city.
Cape Town has been the setting for more than 30 years of the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour, which is the world’s largest individually timed cycle race.